Burtnyk hangs 'em up

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

One of Manitoba's best curlers of all time has called it quits for at least a year.

Probably longer.

Assiniboine Memorial skip Kerry Burtnyk confirmed yesterday that he does not plan to curl next season.

"I don't want to use that word (retire) but my intention is for the longer term," he said. "I don't know how much I'm going to miss it and the only way I'm going to find out is to take a break and see what it's like.

"I'm not saying I'm never going to curl again but it won't be on the (cashspiel) circuit."

Burtnyk, 46, had hinted that he may pack it in if he failed to qualify for the 2005 Olympic trials. He was one game short at both the 2004 Canada Cup and the Canada Cup West Bonspiel, then came close again at the 2005 Canada Cup. Although frustrated in those attempts, Burtnyk does not believe his talent is eroding.

"I'm not doing this because I don't think the potential is still there," he said. "It's partly for family reasons, not that they wanted me to stop. I just want to spend more time with the kids, who are getting more involved in their activities."

STARTED WITH A BANG

His daughters, Rachel (11) and Laura (nine) started curling years ago. Both also play outdoor soccer in the summer. In winter, Rachel is involved in both dance and indoor soccer while Laura is in gymnastics.

Burtnyk told his teammates of the decision after this year's Canada Cup.

At 22, Burtnyk started his curling career with a bang, winning the 1981 Brier, then both the Brier and world championship in 1995. Burtnyk is also one of only four skips to win a record four Manitoba men's titles.

"The top memories would be winning the Brier in 1981, the worlds in '95 and definitely one of my most special ones was making it to the final of the 2001 Olympic trials just a few months after my surgery," said Burtnyk, who had a cancerous lump removed from his scalp the summer before.

Burtnyk, who was outspoken in his suggestions for improvements to the game, was also a major driving force behind the creation of the controversial Grand Slam.

"One of the things I would most like to be remembered for would be as a person who stood up for what he believed in to make the game better," he said. "And give something back to the game that did so much for me.

"I'm also very proud of being one of the few competitive curlers who has stayed at the same club for more than 30 years. It gave me the opportunity to learn the game and that has been very important to me."


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